genus Tatia contains around about 14 species
(2006) distributed throughout South America east of
the Andes from Venezuela and Colombia to Southern
Brazil. They don't grow big and the largest size recorded
is 12cm. ( 5ins).
Tatia tend to be
kept by catfish fanatics (for the want of a better
word!) as you will not see them from one week to
another as they are nocturnal (active at night)
and you have to feed at lights out or as I do, put
food into the pipe or crevice that you will find
them jammed into.
Tatia galaxias is
a nicely marked catfish, as most of this genus are,
and sometimes difficult to identify to species.Tatia
aulopygia and Tatia
the two species that come to mind in this I.D. category
and it is not beyond the realms of fantasy that
we could be looking at wrongly names species in
the numerous catfish books and on the internet,
and if buying from your local shop a catfish named
T. galaxias may be T. intermedia instead,
but looking after this catfish in the aquarium are
the same for all three. Mees (1974) described T.
galaxias on the basis of its diagnostic colour
pattern of small white spots evenly spaced over
a dark body. Mees, (1974: 88) considered its coloration
reminiscent of that of T. intermedia, except
in T. galaxias the body is darker, the
spots smaller, and the tail dark with white spots
(vs. pale with dark spots and cross-bars in T.
The first thing you must
look out for is a well fitting lid for the tank
as this cat can jump out of an aquarium, but it
is mostly when you disturb them, especially when
water changing or rearranging the tank layout. I
have found that they are happiest when kept together
in a small group but they are also fine individually,
as this is a very hardy species.
The eyes of Tatia
are large with a skin over them and a few non catfish
aquarists tend to think that they have cloudy eye's
and it is a disease, but this is normal for the
Auchenipteridae family. The barbels are moderate
in length reaching to the end of the dorsal fin
and they tend to bend them upwards when looking
for food on the water surface. They can also tuck
their barbels alongside their cheeks making them
nearly invisible. I tend to think that there is
a groove in this area where they can lay their barbels
in. They possess two pairs of barbels, one pair
of mandibular and one pair of maxillary.
They have quite a chunky
body with a broad based caudal peduncle (between
the dorsal and caudal) which is unusual in itself
as in most fish it slopes down to the caudal fin.
Tatia possess a very small adipose fin and a moderately
The anal fin is
the key to the sexual dimorphism of this genus, if
you think of the male and female of most livebearer
fish (Goodeidae family) and you will not be
too far away with this assumption. As you can see
above the female has a normal anal fin but the males
are modified into a copulatory organ with the first
and second ray thickened and longer, it is thought
that the male uses this to clasp the female during
the spawning embrace.
T. galaxias is quite a rare find in imports
as you will be probably looking at T.
as this species is often sold as T. galaxias.
Mees (1974) described T. galaxias on
the basis of its diagnostic colour pattern of small
white spots evenly spaced over a dark body. Mees,
(1974: 88) considered its colouration reminiscent
of that of T. intermedia, except in T.
galaxias the body is darker, the spots smaller,
and the tail dark with white spots (vs. pale with
dark spots and cross-bars in T. intermedia).
Milky Way Woodcat
Orinoco River basin. Type locality:
Caño de Quiribana into Río Orinoco,
Dorsal spines (total): 1; Dorsal
soft rays (total): 5; Anal soft rays: 9 - 10; Vertebrae:
32 - 33. The following unique characters separate
this species from all other species of Tatia:
postcleithral process well developed, reaching almost
to a vertical through the dorsal-fin origin; orbital
diameter 37.0-42.9% HL; and snout length 23.1-28.9%
HL . Can be further distinguished by the following
features: narrow elliptical cranial fontanel; ribs
7; nasal ossified with wide medial flanges partially
sutured to lateral margin of mesethmoid.
Colour pattern of small white
spots evenly spaced over a dark body. Colouration
variable, sides of body usually dark with light, rounded
spots or dots, or sometimes uniformly pale brown;
toothed prevomer in examined large adult specimens.
Care & Compatibility
Give them small pipes, and
they do seem to like to hide in the crevices of bogwood
as well. They appear to be happier if they can jam
themselves in with the use of their pectoral fins.
Community tanks are fine for this species although
you may find that they will predate on fry from other
species, but apart from that they come well recommended
but don't expect to see them too often.
First bred in
1988 in Germany, 200 non-adhesive 3mm eggs are released
and sink to the substrate. They hatch in 3 to 3½
days and the fry are free swimming 5 days later. They
should only be fed at night with finely ground TetraMin
as well as frozen rotifers and baby brine shrimp.
In its native habitat they
feed on small invertebrates and crustaceans and in
the aquarium they will eat anything given such as
frozen bloodworm inserted in to their hideaway, catfish
tablets, white worm (sparingly) and prawns and shrimp.
They do like their food and you can see them shooting
out of their hideouts and swimming in a frenzied manner
to try and take all for themselves, especially when
you feed them their favourite food, frozen bloodworm.
Another food that they love is Fish Farm pellets but
you have to watch the water quality with this food
as it can quickly foul the water, so feed sparingly.
In honour of Mr. C. Tate Regan. galaxias:
Milky, also spotted.
H.A. and R. Riehl 1991 Aquarien atlas. Bd.
3. Melle: Mergus, Verlag für Natur- und Heimtierkunde,
Germany. 1104 p. Burgess, W.E. 1989 An atlas of freshwater
and marine catfishes. A preliminary survey of the
Siluriformes. T.F.H. Publications, Inc., Neptune City,
New Jersey (USA). 784 p. Catfish Association Great Britain.
Volume1. Sarmento-Soares, L.M.
and R.F. Martins-Pinheiro
2008 A systematic revision of Tatia (Siluriformes:
Auchenipteridae: Centromochlinae). Neotrop. Ichthyol.
6(3):495-542. Sterba, Gunther: Freshwater Fishes
of the World 1.